Placement: The Negligible Arcana
Firstly, a note on the naming of this suit. Most card suits, whether they be tarot cards or game cards, or cards for tarot-related games, have multiple names, even within the same language. Wands, staves and clubs come to mind as alternate names to the same suit, as do coins and pentacles, and also chickens and fowl. Octopus is a special case, with the primary difference being multiple forms of pluralization. Some publishers prefer that the plural of octopus be written as octopi, others choose octopodes,* and some (myself included) use the word octopus as either singular or plural, like moose.
The Two of Octopus card features an octopus acrobat, or sometimes wire walker or pole dancer, and a second octopus provides musical accompaniment below.
Right side up:
Most of what we know about the suit of Octopus comes from the writings of the great mystic Boilsplat McFarland. McFarland is best known for being beheaded for treason in 1483 as a result of a misunderstanding with the London authorities over failing to shovel the path to his house and then inviting each member of the royal family, one by one, to visit. Two young princes split their heads open on their way to see him. To prevent the embarrassment of admitting that sometimes royalty enjoy lunching with commoners (and thus risk an outright rebellion by those whose invitations they turned down) the family spread a rumour that Richard III killed them at the tower.**
McFarland’s classic interpretation of the Two of Octopus is that it indicates a balancing act between two slippery things. This could be figurative, as in double-booking a rendezvous with two suitors in the same venue and trying to keep each date from learning of the other’s existence. It could also be literal, such as keeping a soapy piglet in the tub while you clean up the bath beads that he scattered all over the floor. Remember that most deadly accidents happen in the home.
Our resident expert in nautical imagery in tarot, Anais Herschel, interprets the cards thusly: “Get your **** together and hold on like a ****er at a **** parade.”
Two of Octopus reversed, on the other hand, refers to balancing opposing sticky things that have latched on and refuse to leave you alone. The suitors from the above-mentioned rendezvous learn of one another but rather than leave you in disgust they become competing stalkers. The newly-bathed piglet rips open a sticky waxing kit while you discover mysterious pieces of dried banana fused to the fibers of your carpet. Do not ask what happens when you pass a tar pit, cement truck, or vat of maple syrup.
*The word octopolis is out of the question in this context, as it means “eight city” rather than “eight foot”. Citizen pedestrians of Octopolis refer to themselves as Octopus. Never call them Octopolitan, as this is the name of a pistachio and rosewater flavoured ice cream from Venice, whose jet black colour is derived from not octopus but squid ink, which takes at least eight hours to collect from a single specimen. I say “at least” because every time you ask a person who de-inks a squid, they further exaggerate the amount of time it takes.
**Note: this has nothing to do with The Tower card, except for when it does.
Classic Two of Octopus deaths:
- A well-oiled machine… of death
- A soap making accident
- Sweaty palms on a ladder
- A haunted waterslide
- Butter on a staircase
- Drowning in Jello
- Drunken trust fall
- Extreme luging